Weekly Recap: Mexican Mayhem, Cape Town’s Book Fair, Egyptian E-books

In Feature Articles by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

June 2009This week Publishing Perspectives looked at a scary situation for an author in Mexico, considered the state of affairs at the Cape Town Book Fair, was impressed with the business plan of Berlin’s TXTR, and considered how Arabic language e-books break down borders. Next week, look for a paean to paper-over-board printing, a talk with Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the launch of a new “online virtual book fair,” and more perspective from across the globe. Till then, enjoy the week that was:

Monday, Mexican-American novelist Luis Alberto Urrea revealed that he won’t be touring Mexico for his new novel, Into the Beautiful North. “I have been told by members of the Mexican government that I should not tour in Mexico with the new book,” said Urrea, “I am too well-known now. The kidnappers may think that my publisher Little, Brown will pay a ransom.”

On Tuesday, Vanessa Badroodien, director of the Cape Town Book Fair, described the challenges facing the Fair, which caters equally to the trade and consumers. In its four years of existence, the CTBF has proven a big hit with book buyers — routinely attracting in excess of 50,000 people — but some publishers, particularly those from ouside South Africa, may find the expense of traveling to South Africa greater than that of going to Europe. Nevertheless, this year some 250 exhibitors showed at the Fair, coming from dozens of different countries, and the Fair’s future looks assured.

Wednesday saw Fabian Heinrich, spokesperson for Wizpac, manufacturer of the forthcoming TXTR e-book reader, describe how his company wanted to fight the threat of e-book hegemony posed by Sony and Amazon.com by introducing its own open-source e-reader into the European market. “The main feature of the device for new consumers is that we offer an open solution for getting documents onto the device,” said Heinrich. “The TXTR platform allows the reader to create collections of documents online, host them on our site, access from your device, and share them.”

Finally, on Thursday, Ramy Habeeb, founder of the Egypt-based publisher Kotobarabia.com explained how he has managed to bypass the seemingly intractable problems of publishing in the Arab world by going digital. As the first e-publisher devoted exclusively to Arabic-language titles, www.kotobarabia.com now offers over 8500 books in 31 subject categories, ranging from “Literature” to “Business Management,” “Banned Books,” and the provocatively titled “Hot Topics.”

Our Bonus Material taught you how to convert from paper to virtual business cards, looked at a scandalous Afrikaans memoir, featured a cure for your Bloomsday hangover (another dose of the Irish!) and looked into Nicotext, the mischievous Swedish publisher J.D. Salinger is suing for copyright infringement.

Have a great weekend.

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About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.